This post was written by: Emmah Lawson
In the last few decades, neuroscience has given us some amazing insights into the early brain development. It has been found that babies’ brains continue to grow after birth at a rapid pace, and 75% of their brains actually form in the first two years. The first six years of life have been identified as the most important years for brain development when the brain soaks up information from the outside world like a sponge, the phase Dr. Maria Montessori, the founder of the Montessori approach to early education called “the Absorbent Mind.”
Brain development starts even before babies are born and they are able to respond to sound and movement, as well as recognize the mother’s emotions and her general state of being. They are ‘tuned into’ their environment even when still in the womb.
The first 24 months
After birth, the brain grows at a much more accelerated pace and the brain mass is like an empty sheet of paper, waiting for information to be put into it. According to the latest research by many neuroscientists and biologists, and presented at the UNICEF convention, the areas of brain which are stimulated grow new connections, or the so-called brain synapses and the brain molds itself around the provided information and outside stimuli. It is very responsive to its environment and it develops accordingly. Those parts of the brain that are not stimulated simply shrink and disappear. That is to say that the potential is always there as a given, but if it isn’t stimulated, the brain can’t form strong synapses.
Brain and language
A good example is language acquisition: children’s brains have the capacity to acquire any language that exists if their care takers speak in this language to them, even two or more languages at the same time, as is the case of bilingual children. However, if these languages are not used with them, children won’t learn them and language centers of the brain will develop in a certain direction. The older we are, the more difficult it is to learn new languages since the brain is less receptive to them after early childhood.
Montessori provides an individualized approach
The best approach to education turns out to be the wonderful Montessori approach which recognizes the stages of brain development and provides the right ‘food’ for the brain at the right times. It treats children as unique individuals and recognizes that each child develops at his or her own pace. Montessori education provides a lot of self-correcting materials and games that allow kids to choose what interests them most at a particular time and to learn by using, experiencing and trying things out by themselves. Nothing is forced on them, they are independent learners from the start.
Children continually grow and entering primary school on time is essential for their continued development. All children, boys, and girls alike, develop in similar patterns, but everyone has their own pace which is not always recognized at schools, except in Montessori schools.
Each child is different and has his or her own temperament, interests, tastes, talents and even learning styles. These should all be nourished and nurtured and not made to fit the mold. The most important thing for children’s brain development is that proper information is provided at the right times and that they are shown love, affection, and support. A good balance of attention to their needs and their personalities will help them develop into their best versions.
Emma is a teacher, constantly improving her skills both as a teacher and as a parent. She is passionate about writing and learning new things that can help you to lead a quality life. She is a regular contributor to High Style Life. You can follow her onTwitter @EmmahLawson